Proponents often use ashwagandha to reduce stress and anxiety and manage several chronic conditions. However, research into the efficacy of ashwagandha for these purposes is inconclusive.
For hundreds of years, people have used the roots and orange-red fruit of ashwagandha for medicinal purposes. The herb is also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry. The name “ashwagandha” describes the smell of its root, meaning “like a horse.” By definition, ashwa means horse.
Practitioners use this herb as a general tonic to boost energy and reduce stress and anxiety. Some also claim that the herb may be beneficial for certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, and anxiety. However, more research is necessary to confirm the potential health benefits of this herb.
In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is considered a Rasayana. This means that it helps maintain youth, both mentally and physically.
There is some evidence to suggest that the herb can have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation underpins many health conditions, and reducing inflammation can protect the body against a variety of conditions.
For example, proponents may use ashwagandha to help treat the following:
Different treatments make use of different parts of the plant, including the leaves, seeds, and fruit. However, at present, there is limited evidence supporting its potential benefits in humans.
Scientific studies have suggested that ashwagandha
That said, researchers do not know a lot about how the herb reacts within the human body. Most studies so far have had small sample sizes and have used a variety of ashwagandha preparations. As such, further research into the possible benefits of ashwagandha is still necessary.
There is some evidence to support the use of ashwagandha for the following:
Stress and anxiety
Ashwagandha may have a calming effect on anxiety symptoms. In a
Although this research is promising, scientists need to collect much more data before recommending the herb to treat anxiety.
The review suggests that consuming 300–500 mg twice per day, in the morning and before sleep, may be beneficial for individuals undergoing strenuous resistance or endurance training.
Some people may use ashwagandha to boost their heart health, including:
However, there is little research in humans to support these benefits. A 2023 review highlights multiple rat studies suggesting that ashwagandha may possess cardioprotective properties.
Similarly, a 2021 review indicates that ashwagandha and other medicinal herbs could help prevent cognitive decline and restore normal cognitive function. However, it adds that further investigation is still necessary.
Many people living with cancer may experience stress, anxiety, and fatigue. For those seeking non-pharmaceutical options for relief from these symptoms, ashwagandha may provide a suitable option.
The dosage of ashwagandha and the way people use it depends on the condition they are hoping to treat. There is no standard dosage based on modern clinical trials.
Different studies have used different dosages. Some
Capsule dosages often contain between 250–1,500 mg of ashwagandha. The herb comes in the form of a capsule, powder, and liquid extract.
In some cases, taking high doses can cause unpleasant side effects. It is best to speak with a healthcare professional about safety and dosage before taking any new herbal supplements, including ashwagandha.
People can usually tolerate ashwagandha in small-to-medium doses. However, there have not been enough long-term studies to fully examine the possible side effects.
Taking large amounts of ashwagandha
According to the
Another potential concern for Ayurvedic herbs is that the
Furthermore, evidence advises that ashwagandha may not be suitable for the following individuals:
- pregnant people
- those about to have surgery
- those with thyroid or autoimmune disorders
- those with hormone-sensitive prostate cancer
- those taking certain medications, such as immunosuppressants, anticonvulsants, thyroid hormone drugs, or medications for diabetes and hypertension
Some FAQs about the benefits of ashwagandha may include:
Is it okay to take ashwagandha everyday?
Evidence suggests it is tolerable to take ashwagandha over a short-term period. However, it is important to take a suitable dose. As most dosages of ashwagandha capsules contain between 250–1,500 mg of ashwagandha, it is not advisable to exceed these dosages.
Is ashwagandha good for anxiety?
While more research is necessary, evidence suggests that ashwagandha may help to reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Do I take ashwagandha in the morning or night?
There is no conclusive evidence whether it is better to take aswagandha in the morning or night. Some evidence suggests that people may benefit by splitting the daily dose between the morning and night.
Can ashwagandha cause a false positive drug test?
The Department of Defense dietary supplement resource note that ashwagandha should not produce a positive result on a routine military drug screening test.
Ashwagandha is a herbal treatment in Ayurvedic medicine. Some studies suggest that ashwagandha could have a range of health benefits. These could include reducing stress and anxiety, improving athletic performance, and possessing neuroprotective properties.
However, many of the studies so far have been small, conducted in animals, or had flaws in their design. For this reason, researchers cannot say with certainty that it is an effective treatment. More work is necessary.
If a person chooses to use this herb as part of a treatment plan, they should be sure to discuss it with their doctor first. Evidence suggests that ashwagandha is safe to use in the short-term. However, pregnant people and those with preexisting health conditions should talk to their doctor before using ashwagandha.